india-pakistan battle on basmati: India and Pakistan take battle over basmati rice title to EU
- India has applied to the European Union for the PGI tag of Basmati
- Pakistan has opposed this, the European Union is an important market for it
- Pakistan has increased Basmati exports to the EU in the last three years
Basmati rice has a special place in the food of India and Pakistan. It is difficult to imagine pulao or biryani without it. But now the tussle has started between the two neighboring countries over Basmati. India has applied to the European Union for a Protected Geographical Indication for Basmati. This will give India the title of Basmati in the European Union, but Pakistan is opposing it.
PGI status grants intellectual property rights to products belonging to a specific geographic area where at least one stage of its production, processing or preparation takes place. India has got Darjeeling tea, Colombian coffee and many French products have got PGI tag. There is legal protection against counterfeiting such products and their price in the market is also high.
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like dropping an atomic bomb
Only India and Pakistan export Basmati in the world. According to UN data, India is the world’s largest exporter of rice, earning an annual income of $6.8 billion. In this, Pakistan is at the fourth place with $2.2 billion. Pakistan has opposed India’s move to get India’s PGI in the European Commission. “It’s like dropping an atomic bomb on us,” said Ghulam Mortaza, co-owner of Lahore’s Al-Barkat Rice Mills. He wants to grab our markets.
Pakistan has increased Basmati exports to the European Union in the last three years. Pakistan has taken advantage of India’s difficulties to meet stringent European pesticide standards. Pakistan now supplies two-thirds of the region’s annual demand of about 300,000 tonnes, according to the European Commission. Malik Faisal Jehangir, vice-president of Pakistan Rice Exporters Association, claims that Pakistani Basmati is more organic and of better quality.
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India, on the other hand, maintains that it did not claim in its application to be the sole producer of specific rice grown in the foothills of the Himalayas. But still, getting the tag of PGI will give him this recognition. Former President of Indian Rice Exporters Association Vijay Setia said that India and Pakistan have been exporting Basmati to different markets without controversy for almost 40 years. Both are in healthy competition. I don’t think PGI will change anything.
A spokesman for the European Commission said that according to EU rules, the two countries should try to negotiate an amicable resolution by September. Legal researcher Delphine Marie-Vivian says that historically, both India and Pakistan are similar regarding Basmati. There have been many cases in Europe regarding differences in PGI but each time they were resolved.
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